Neighbours fight opencast mine plans

A controversial bid to create a huge opencast mine in St Helens has been resubmitted.

Jubilant residents celebrated last January after plans to excavate acres of land at Carter's Fold in Garswood were unanimously knocked back because of pollution, noise and the risk of destroying an area of green belt land.

But the company behind the proposals - Bury-based LEM Mining and Restoration Ltd - have now appealed to the planning inspectorate after resubmitted plans were refused in November by a margin of 12 votes to two.

A public inquiry is now set to be held at St Helens Town Hall on July 7, 8 and 9 to allow the planning inspectorate to examine all the evidence from both sides.

Three St Helens areas stand to be affected by the plans if the appeal is successful - Garswood, Billinge and Haydock.

Under the terms of the initial planning application, the site, which consists of agricultural land between Garswood Old Road and Arch Lane, would become an opencast mine for two years.

But many residents were concerned that excavation from the area would continue beyond the two-year deadline.

The company had a site at Crock Hey in Garswood which was initially planned to be open for two years, but ended up running for six.

John Thornber, of the Garswood Opencast Action Group, says campaigners are sick and tired of having to fight the application.

He said: "We have suffered for long enough. Since 1942 there have been 40 mines in a 3km radius in this area and we are having no more. Among the many problems this mine would cause is that a well-known walk - the Garswood Loop - would be affected. It is the only walk in the area with wheelchair access.

LEM Mining were unable to be contacted for comment.